Theresa May under fire for plans to make teachers responsible for knife crime prevention

2 April 2019, 13:26 | Updated: 2 April 2019, 13:30

Knife Crime UK
Teachers could be held accountable for failing to prevent youth crime. Picture: Getty

Theresa May has been criticised for "scapegoating" teachers in her attempt to come up with a strategy to tackle youth violence.

Theresa May has come under fire after trying to hold teachers accountable for failing to stop knife crime.

The Prime Minister held crisis talks in a bid to address the knife crime epidemic that is sweeping Britain's streets, where she attempted the tackle the "disease" of blade offences.

A constellation on the strategy will asses to what extent those in the front line, including teachers, should be held accountable in their failure to prevent youth turning to knife crime.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid bought forward the idea of a so-called “public health duty”, which is intended to help pinpoint warning signs a youngster could be in danger, “such as presenting in A&E with a suspicious injury, to worrying behaviour at school or issues at home”.

However, both teachers and top policeman have hit back at the plans calling it "utter nonsense."

General Secretary of the Teacher's Union, NASUW, Chris Keates said: “All professionals involved with children and young people are well aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding their health and welfare.

“Violent crime involving young people, of course, needs to be taken seriously and appropriate strategies considered.

“However, this is a complex issue which will not be resolved by putting additional pressures and responsibilities on teachers and head teachers or indeed others.”

Youth Knife Crime
Home Secretary Sajid Javid bought forward the idea of a so-called “public health duty”. Picture: Getty

There had been concerns that kids who are being excluded from school are more likely to fall into a life of violent crime, however Keates claims teachers are being "scapegoated".

Keates said: “It is concerning that a narrative appears to be developing whereby schools excluding pupils are potentially being scapegoated as being part of the problem, with exclusion being cited as a reason for pupils becoming involved in knife crime and gangs.

“Schools exclude as a last resort and it should be remembered that exclusions in too many instances are because pupils have brought offensive weapons on site or have engaged in violence against staff and other pupils.”

She added: “Threatening staff such as teachers, who already have a difficult and challenging job, that they will be held accountable for failing to spot any warning signs of violent crime is an unacceptable response and will simply add to the myriad of government-driven factors which are causing teachers to leave the profession and deterring potential recruits from applying.”

National Education Union Joint General Secretary Mary Bousted said: “Neither the blame for or the solution to violent crime can be laid at the door of schools or frontline hospital staff.

“Schools already have strong safeguarding practices in place and staff will be altered to any issues of concern. The problem is what happens after issues of concern have been identified. Schools have lost pastoral support, special needs teachers and school councillors."